Before Milwaukee’s Serb Hall closed in early 2021—the umpteenth victim of the COVID-19 pandemic—the South Side institution (5101 W. Oklahoma Ave.) was famed for hosting decades’ worth of political rallies and serving one of the city’s most iconic Friday fish frys. Happily, that second item is set to return. Yep, Serb Hall’s fish fry is back! Well, in drive-thru and carry-out form, at least.
On Friday, April 8 (and every Friday thereafter), folks can catch a Serb Hall fish fry from a drive-thru and carry-out window between 3:30 and 8:30 p.m. The menu choices are a traditional fish fry (fried or baked) with two or three pieces of cod, french fries or garlic mashed potatoes, Serb Hall coleslaw, salted marble rye bread with butter, fresh lemon, and tartar sauce; or a Serbian-style fish dinner with two or three pieces of cod in a tomato-based sauce with peppers and onions, garlic mashed potatoes, Serb Hall coleslaw, and salted marble rye bread with butter.
The fish frys will be first-come, first-serve. No pre-orders will be available. What’s the pricing? “For pricing, please reach out to Serb Hall,” says Serb Hall.
“Thank you to all of our loyal Serb Hall customers who supported us and cheered us on to resume service of our beloved Friday fish fry,” says Serb Hall Board of Directors President Vlado Ninkovich in a press release. “The outpouring of support from our church community as well as the community at large has been humbling. We look forward to serving our loyal customers again!”
Serb Hall hosted a number of controversial/shitty political rallies in the months before its closure. In November 2020, a defiantly anti-mask “Defend Your Vote” rally ended with Serb Hall manager Nicholas Alioto getting pushed and/or falling to the ground amidst a hostile crowd. Alioto, who had previously tested positive for COVID-19, died two weeks later of hypertensive cardiovascular disease.
— Cassidy Williams (@CassidyWtv) November 14, 2020
In a 2018 fish fry review, our own Caleb Westphal dug into Serb Hall’s earlier political history:
John and Jackie Kennedy campaigned at Serb Hall two days before the Wisconsin primary in 1960. On Good Friday in 1972, the Friday before Wisconsin’s primary, four Democratic contenders showed up at Serb Hall’s fish fry: Hubert Humphrey, George McGovern, John Lindsay, and Ed Muskie. The Milwaukee Journal reported that Humphrey was the only one of the candidates to sit down for a full meal, although the paper did include a photo of Muskie stuffing his mouth with fried fish while standing. George Wallace had rallied there the previous evening; Hunter Thompson had been there for it, and wrote in Fear And Loathing: On The Campaign Trail ’72 that Wallace had “jerked this crowd in Serb Hall around like he had them on wires.”
The list of candidates who have stopped at Serb Hall goes on and on. Ronald Reagan campaigned there in 1980. George H.W. Bush bowled—and slipped and fell onto—one of its lanes in 1984. John McCain was there in 2008, and Mitt Romney made a stop in 2012. In 2016, Ted Cruz and John Kasich gave speeches there at an event that included a Friday fish fry; Cruz was headquartered there the following week when he beat Donald Trump in the Wisconsin primary. Stops at Serb Hall for campaigning, a fish fry, or a little of both have been a part of state and local candidates’ routines as well. Even Mayor Barrett has gotten in on the fun.
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